Five wacky scholarships

1. The Vegetarian Resource Group gives $5,000 to two graduating high school seniors who are vegetarians.

2. Loyola University offers a full tuition scholarship to anyone with the last name Zolp.

3. The American Society for Enology and Viticulture offers scholarships in wine making.

4. Evans Scholars Foundation Funds scholarships for student golf caddies.

5. The Mycological Society of America offers scholarships for students interested in spores, molds and fungus.

Source: scholarship.lifetips.com

With tuition costs continuing to rise, students at the University of Colorado are looking for all the financial help they can get.

For many students, loans can be an expensive way to go, while grant money and scholarships are less accessible and harder to get.

But with some simple tips from Susan Youtz, the associate director of financial aid and student employment at CU, students may be able to snag a scholarship or two to help pay those pricey tuition bills.

Youtz said students should focus on prioritizing opportunities based on specialized qualifications and award amounts.


Advertisement

"Prioritize the specialty ones that have fewer applicants because you'll have a better chance of getting those that fewer people qualify for," Youtz said. "Or maybe one is higher dollar amount, so that would be more beneficial then getting several small awards."

And as the spring semester begins, students should already be researching and applying for scholarships for next year.

Youtz said she would recommend students start researching scholarship opportunities as early as November for the following academic year. But it's not too late for students looking for some free cash to help with school.

"Keep an open mind when doing your research," Youtz said. "There are a lot of scholarship opportunities out there and you should apply for as many as possible to have the best chance of getting at least one."

Students should start by filling out the application for university scholarships and department-specific opportunities. Visit the financial aid website at colorado.edu/finaid to apply for university-wide scholarships. Then check with your department about any opportunities it might offer.

Thinking outside the box might be the key for students struggling to find scholarship money.

Some organizations offer academic-based scholarships, which require high grade point averages and test scores for qualification. Others offer specialty awards that include qualifications such as physical characteristics, personal interests or family factors among many others.

Weird ones

There are some unusual national and local scholarships, too, such as ones for left-handed students only, students who are under 4-foot-10-inches tall or even students who are more than 6 feet tall.

Duck-brand duct tape offers a scholarship for the high school couple who wears the most creative prom attire made entirely of duct tape. Other odd awards include scholarships for student inventors, marble players, students who promote vegetarianism in their schools and students who sell Tupperware.

Students at CU have received private aid from the American Association for Nude Recreation, the International Metal Decorators Association, the Propeller Club of the U.S., the Society of Mayflower Descendents, the Young Farmers & Homemakers Club, the Heritage Fine Arts Guild, the Space Center Scholarship and the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, among others.

Check out sites such as scholarships.com, finaid.org or education planner.org. For more help finding and applying for scholarships, visit a counselor offered by the financial aid office.

Youtz said that while scholarship searches can be incredibly time-consuming, they can also be well worth the work.

"If you get even a $500 scholarship after putting in 20 hours of work, that's like making $25 per hour," Youtz said. "Imagine the benefits if you get multiple awards."

Watch out

CU junior Lane Mitchell said after her freshmen year she got discouraged and applied for fewer scholarships, and it's no surprise that she's receiving fewer awards now.

"I got a little money -- for books, mainly -- but now I'm not getting anything from scholarships," Mitchell said.

Lucky for Mitchell, her family is helping her pay for college. But not every student can afford to get discouraged.

Youtz said maintaining motivation is important: despite rejections, keep applying for scholarships.

"Do your best to get them," Youtz said. "But remember, rejections can be based on luck or even random decisions.

"Keep trying."